Adoption by Shepherd Care has been an approved agency through the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare (ICBF) since 1993. In 2005, as doors began closing to international adoption in many countries, Adoption by Shepherd Care moved forward to formalize our comprehensive adoption program in Colombia.
As we worked more closely with the Colombian government and workers in completing adoptions, we came to realize the other opportunities for ASC to be involved in helping to care for Colombia’s children. On a trip to Colombia in 2008, we learned the following facts:
- 54% of pregnancies in Colombia are unplanned.
- 60% of the population is under the age of eighteen.
- There are 800,000 children born yearly.
- Abortion is illegal in Colombia.
- Over 56,000 children are currently in protective custody.
- 7,210 children are legally free for adoption and are considered special needs because of their age, medical condition, or being a member of a sibling group of three or more. In 2011 that number has increased to 9150.
These statistics certainly change from one year to the next, but learning those facts at that time grew a burden within us to find ways to assist the Colombian government with the care of the many children in Colombia who are in need. Colombia already places great value on their children and cares for them well, and we knew that we wanted to join them in their efforts.
Believing that adoption is the most permanent solution to the orphan crisis, ASC has continued to invest a great deal of time and manpower in our Colombia adoption program to ensure we are providing services that are in compliance with all applicable regulations and that are as user-friendly to adoptive families as possible. In addition to these efforts to streamline the adoption process and to recruit prospective adoptive families, we have also searched for opportunities to invest in the lives of the children who remain in Colombia. While we rejoice with each child who is made a part of a forever family through adoption, we realize that many children will grow into adulthood without having had this experience. We are committed to finding ways to serve those children who remain in Colombia so that they might have a better chance for a productive life and hope for their future.
Since 2008, ASC has sponsored several donations and initiatives to benefit the children of Colombia. We have provided tangible support including Christmas gifts, bedding, school supplies, toys, and meals to hundreds of children in orphanages and emergency shelters. In 2009, a group of 22 individuals from ASC and the community traveled to Colombia for a two-week trip, during which we worked at an emergency shelter in Bogotá making much needed repairs, painting, and encouraging the staff there who labor day in and day out for the children.
Through the generosity of many supporters, in 2010 ASC brought two brothers from Colombia to Florida to visit their two siblings who had been adopted five years earlier. It was a joy to be involved in this reunion and to play a part in bringing the potential for healing and peace to the lives of these children. In January of 2011, another team visited a shelter in Bogotá which houses around 70 adolescent boys. In addition to assisting this shelter with tangible needs, our dream is to provide a classroom and tutor for these boys so that they can receive the education and training that will be critical to their success when they reach adulthood in a few short years.
Many orphans in Colombia are not on the official list of children awaiting adoption because they are in need of further medical evaluations. Government resources are limited, meaning that in some cases these evaluations are not conducted for months or possibly years. Since our trip to Colombia in 2008 when we learned of this situation, we have begun providing funding for evaluations for these children so that their health status can be determined more quickly. ASC has sponsored many children in this way, and as funds become available to our agency, we hope to sponsor many more so that children can be given the opportunity to have a forever family through adoption.
Since expanding our adoption program in 2005 and expanding our vision for ASC’s work in Colombia in 2008, the lives of ASC staff have been changed and we hope that the lives of children in Colombia have been impacted for good as well. Children are waiting for hope, and we have been given much. As we have witnessed dreams become realities in our vision for children in Colombia, we are encouraged to press on in these efforts. In order to continue sharing hope with children in Colombia, we need partners to catch the vision and join us.
If you are interested in donating financial gifts, services, or tangible goods to our efforts, please contact Adoption by Shepherd Care’s corporate office at 954-981-2060. ASC is a non-profit 501(C)(3) organization. Your contributions are tax-deductible.
May we all find ourselves grateful for the blessings we have been given, and generous to the vulnerable ones whose paths cross our own.